Monday, 28 December 2009


'Israel resembles a failed state'

Al-Jazeera English
By Ali Abunimah

One year has passed since the savage Israeli attack on the
Gaza Strip, but for the people there time might as well
have stood still.

Since Palestinians in Gaza buried their loved ones - more
than 1,400 people, almost 400 of them children - there has
been little healing and virtually no reconstruction.

According to international aid agencies, only 41 trucks of
building supplies have been allowed into Gaza during the

Promises of billions made at a donors' conference in Egypt
last March attended by luminaries of the so-called
"international community" and the Middle East peace process
industry are unfulfilled, and the Israeli siege, supported
by the US, the European Union, Arab states, and tacitly by
the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Ramallah, continues.

Policy of destruction

Amid the endless, horrifying statistics a few stand out: Of
Gaza's 640 schools, 18 were completely destroyed and 280
damaged in Israeli attacks. Two-hundred-and-fifty students
and 15 teachers were killed.

Of 122 health facilities assessed by the World Health
Organization, 48 per cent were damaged or destroyed.

Ninety per cent of households in Gaza still experience
power cuts for 4 to 8 hours per day due to Israeli attacks
on the power grid and degradation caused by the blockade.

Forty-six per cent of Gaza's once productive agricultural
land is out of use due to Israeli damage to farms and
Israeli-declared free fire zones. Gaza's exports of more
than 130,000 tonnes per year of tomatoes, flowers,
strawberries and other fruit have fallen to zero.

That "much of Gaza still lies in ruins," a coalition of
international aid agencies stated recently, "is not an
accident; it is a matter of policy".

This policy has been clear all along and it has nothing to
do with Israeli "security".

Destroying resistance

From June 19, 2008, to November 4, 2008, calm prevailed
between Israel and Gaza, as Hamas adhered strictly - as
even Israel has acknowledged - to a negotiated ceasefire.

That ceasefire collapsed when Israel launched a surprise
attack on Gaza killing six people, after which Hamas and
other resistance factions retaliated.

Even so, Palestinian factions were still willing to renew
the ceasefire, but it was Israel that refused, choosing
instead to launch a premeditated, systematic attack on the
foundations of civilised life in the Gaza Strip.

Operation Cast Lead, as Israel dubbed it, was an attempt to
destroy once and for all Palestinian resistance in general,
and Hamas in particular, which had won the 2006 election
and survived the blockade and numerous US-sponsored
attempts to undermine and overthrow it in cooperation with
US-backed Palestinian militias.

Like the murderous sanctions on Iraq throughout the 1990s,
the blockade of Gaza was calculated to deprive civilians of
basic necessities, rights and dignity in the hope that
their suffering might force their leadership to surrender
or collapse.

In many respects things may seem more dire than a year ago.

Barack Obama, the US president, whom many hoped would
change the vicious anti-Palestinian policies of his
predecessor, George Bush, has instead entrenched them as
even the pretense of a serious peace effort has vanished.

According to media reports, the US Army Corps of Engineers
is assisting Egypt in building an underground wall on its
border with Gaza to block the tunnels which act as a
lifeline for the besieged territory [resources and efforts
that ought to go into rebuilding still hurricane-devastated
New Orleans], and American weapons continue to flow to West
Bank militias engaged in a US- and Israeli-sponsored civil
war against Hamas and anyone else who might resist Israeli
occupation and colonisation.

Shifting public opinion

These facts are inescapable and bleak.

However, to focus on them alone would be to miss a much
more dynamic situation that suggests Israel's power and
impunity are not as invulnerable as they appear from this

A year after Israel's attack and after more than
two-and-a-half years of blockade, the Palestinian people in
Gaza have not surrendered. Instead they have offered the
world lessons in steadfastness and dignity, even at an
appalling, unimaginable cost.

It is true that the European Union leaders who came to
occupied Jerusalem last January to publicly embrace Ehud
Olmert, the then Israeli prime minister, - while white
phosphorus seared the flesh of Gazan children and bodies
lay under the rubble - still cower before their respective
Israel lobbies, as do American and Canadian politicians.
But the shift in public opinion is palpable as Israel's own
actions transform it into a pariah whose driving forces are
not the liberal democratic values with which it claims to
identify, but ultra-nationalism, racism, religious
fanaticism, settler-colonialism and a Jewish supremacist
order maintained by frequent massacres.

The universalist cause of justice and liberation for
Palestinians is gaining adherents and momentum especially
among the young.

I witnessed it, for example, among Malaysian students I met
at a Palestine solidarity conference held by the Union of
NGOs of The Islamic World in Istanbul last May.

And again in November, as hundreds of student organisers
from across the US and Canada converged to plan their
participation in the global Palestinian-led campaign of
boycott, divestment and sanctions modeled on the successful
struggle against South African apartheid in the 1980s.

'Bankrupt' state

This week, thousands of people from dozens of countries are
attempting to reach Gaza to break the siege and march
alongside Palestinians who have been organising inside the

Each of the individuals traveling with the Gaza Freedom
March, Viva Palestina, or other delegations represents
perhaps hundreds of others who could not make the journey
in person, and who are marking the event with
demonstrations and commemorations, visits to their elected
officials, and media campaigns.

Against this flowering of activism, Zionism is struggling
to rejuvenate its dwindling base of support.

Multi-million dollar programmes aimed at recruiting and
Zionising young American Jews are struggling to compete
against organisations like the International Jewish
Anti-Zionist Network, which run not on money but principled
commitment to human equality.

Increasingly, we see that Israel's hasbara [propaganda]
efforts have no positive message, offer no plausible case
for maintaining a status quo of unspeakable repression and
violence, and rely instead on racist demonisation and
dehumanisation of Arabs and Muslims to justify Israel's
actions and even its very existence.

Faced with growing global recognition and support for the
courageous non-violent struggle against continued land
theft in the West Bank, Israel is escalating its violence
and kidnapping of leaders of the movement in Bil'in and
other villages [Muhammad Othman, Jamal Juma and Abdallah
Abu Rahmeh are among the leaders of this movement recently

Travel fears

In acting this way, Israel increasingly resembles a
bankrupt failed state, not a regime confident about its
legitimacy and longevity.

And despite the failed peace process industry's efforts to
ridicule, suppress and marginalise it, there is a growing
debate among Palestinians and even among Israelis about a
shared future in Palestine/Israel based on equality and
decolonisation, rather than ethno-national segregation and
forced repartition.

Last, but certainly not least, in the shadow of the
Goldstone report, Israeli leaders travel around the world
fearing arrest for their crimes.

For now, they can rely on the impunity that high-level
international complicity and their inertial power and
influence still afford them.

But the question for the real international community -
made up of people and movements - is whether we want to
continue to see the still very incomplete system of
international law and justice painstakingly built since the
horrors of the Second World War and the Nazi holocaust
dismantled and corrupted all for the sake of one rogue

What we have done in solidarity with the Palestinian people
in Gaza and the rest of Palestine is not yet enough. But
our movement is growing, it cannot be stopped, and we will
reach our destination.

Ali Abunimah is co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of One Country, A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse.

No comments: